I’ve had a number of days to think about writing something like this. I know Tom is busy with much more important things right now, but, I hope someone will show him this link, and we can both remember the good ole days. I hope you bear with me, I am not as eloquent a writer as Tom is.
I had the pleasure of starting to get to know Tom Allensworth, Bob Kirkland, and the rest of the family of AVSIM back in 2006. I was relatively new to both flight sim and my IT career. Little did I know, after they read my short, apparently enticing resume, they would call me.
I first volunteered for AVSIM as a front page news editor. I guess somewhere in the background, talks were already underway between Tom, Bob, and Matt Johnson about getting Matt help with all things IT for the site. So, a few weeks before the San Diego show, my phone rang, and Bob K was on the phone, inviting me to San Diego to meet Matt and the rest of the family. Plans we’re made, plane tickets bought, and I was on my way.
To make a long story short, I didn’t pack the right shoes. Little did I know, my friendship with the Allensworths would start that weekend, with his wife playing Doctor mom and assisting on my blister. lol Later that evening, as the weekend wound down, we also rode the same red-eye back to DC, we then said our goodbyes and I continued on to SC. Just one show, one meeting in what has now, to me, become a much too short time.
Later on, in 2008, for some stupid reason, I decided I was “done” with flight sim, and AVSIM. I never had the right words to explain to Tom, Bob, that no, it wasn’t AVSIM, I just couldn’t handle the comments, the constant putting down of AVSIM, the arrogant stance of many in the overall community. What I failed to consider was the sheer size of what Tom had built. The nay-sayers were the very few of the whole. In hind site, I should have stayed.
Then, in 2009, the unthinkable happened. Someone they had vetted to replace me with the magical keys to the city, hacked AVSIM from the inside. My phone rang again. And again I offered my services, along with a few others, and sprang into action to bring the wonderful community back to life. We planned out what to do. As donations poured in, that quickly changed, and we spec’ed out and ordered new servers, switches and all new hardware. I spent Labor Day weekend in the NOC, with our brand new servers, with Matt on the phone from London and worked our magic. The hack had taken SOME of us, but not all of us, and we had enough to recover.
Several years later, I was back in DC, The Dulles Hyatt, where I had also attended a couple AVSIM FanCons as well. The hotel had seemed to become our unofficial AVSIM HQ. It felt like a second home coming there. I was there, to install a new backup plan and system, to ensure we NEVER lost AVSIM again.
After my work, Tom had driven up to spend the weekend, have some drinks, and just chat. You wonder why I talk a little about me in this entire story? Tom said something to me that weekend that has stuck ever since. “John, you don’t talk enough about yourself.” A few simple words, that through my years in 1991-1995, I had forgotten when I was a Marine. I am a hella lot better then I give myself credit for. And in one, short, sweet sentence, Tom picked it right out.
Now, I cannot speak about Bob K, we were asked not to, and I hope he will chime in if he feels up to it. We all miss him too. But this story now needs to be about Tom. Tom was like a 3rd father to me. (I had 2 already you see, my bio-father who passed a year ago January and my stepdad.) Tom always asked how I was doing, how things were. Yes, there was a LOT of times we didn’t see eye to eye. And some other times he talked me out of bringing someone to Canada with me. (Oh was he SO right on that one.) I wish i could have given Tom more of my time. Given a little bit more and stayed a little calmer through all those calls, all those arguments. But hey, back in the day, Tom was the pilot, I was the dog. He was there to feed me, I was there to make sure he didn’t touch anything.
But Tom already knew the back end very well. A couple years prior we had also worked on upgrading the overall feel of the website to what you see today in 2015. LOTS of arguments, LOTS of hair pulling, but, we got it done. And it continues to evolve today.
Tom, If nothing else, I am praying for you and your family now. Praying there is some miracle out there. Like my father, your time is much too short and now IS NOT your time to leave us. I am sorry we have lost touch these last couple of years. My own life, more then anything, got in the way. I made some choices that are still affecting me, and for the ones that may have in any way hurt you or AVSIM, I am truly sorry. But, I hope overall, I helped AVSIM to get to where it is, even if in some small way, and your legacy will live on.
I couldn’t just put one small post on the forums about you, about AVSIM. And I am sure there is so many more words I am leaving out. I pray for the best, and hope some way, some how, we get to have a drink together again.
Tom, Denise, From the bottom of my heart and to your entire family, I love you. Thank you for ALL you have done for me, for the AVSIM family, for ALL of us. Semper Fi, Vivat Jesus, and Carpe Diem.